This issue has largely been danced around, rather than engaged. However, as sort of a boomerang effect of the latest and greatest in executive overreach, people are starting to wake up to the issue, bit by bit. For example (via Atrios) Paul Begala on CNN:
Not to mention the possibilities for abuse if content distribution is tightly controlled by a small group of big businesses. I don't think you need to be a tinfoil hattress to think of reasons why that might be a bad idea, all things considered.
[T]he Democrats are going to have to point out that this is a classic Republican move, not a national security move. Big government is getting into bed with big business. We're talking about AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth. AT&T, by the way, wants to take over the Internet and start charging for access to the Internet, which Internet pioneers desperately oppose.(emphasis mine) Look, I'm not tech-wonkish enough to know, in detail, about such things as internet choke points:
So, now, if you are running AT&T, and the president of the United States comes to you and says, hey, why don't I spy, why don't I snoop through your files there, and you want him to give you permission to control the Internet, that's a really lousy alliance politically for the Republicans, to be seen as big government in bed with big business.
and I don't know anything about any quids or quos put on the table by the pros here, but am I loony to at least ask the question? Is it really wise to trust the TelCo's with the power to pick and choose which content they will carry?